LODWAR, TURKANA CENTRAL
Turkana County, which is known for its perennial drought and famine circles, constantly suffers another form of starvation; teacher shortage.
It is this shortage of teachers caused by insecurity and a high attrition rate within the profession that the head of the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) has promised to address. Gabriel Longeiboni has pledged to look into the biting teacher shortage in Turkana County.
The county is experiencing a shortage of more than 2,500 teachers, with a low teacher-student ratio. This is blamed on the high rate of attrition as qualified teachers abandon the profession to join NGOs and politics.
Longeiboni and the TSC commissioner Saadia Kontoma recently met with teachers from the county at St. Kevin Secondary School to reassure them of their support. The meeting was also attended by the deputy governor, area MPs, and county government representatives.
“When we talk about shortage of teachers, it is not only in Turkana county or the pastoralist communities, it is the whole country. We have a shortage of about 90,000 teachers. During the recruitment process, our budget is constrained but we try as much as possible through parliamentary education committee to address the issue,” says Longeiboni.
Longeiboni says the biggest challenge the commission faces is the transfer of teachers. The TSC recruitment policy restricts transferring teachers who have not served for 5 years or more in the region where they were posted.
Kontoma asked teachers to be fair and objective whenever they land better paying jobs elsewhere. They should consider what impact their departure has. Says Kontoma: “When exiting teaching profession we should ask ourselves whom have we nurtured who will remain to take care of the next generation?”
The Turkana county education director Dr. Anyang says that the issue of teacher understaffing is deep rooted in the negative attitude by young people towards the teaching profession.
“We want to encourage people to join this field and one way is by promoting our teachers to higher levels, by doing this we will be motivating them. The promotions should not only take place at the county level but also in the mainstream ladder,” he concluded.
KNUT secretary Turkana county Tony Nasia says understaffing is affecting almost all public schools in the county. Also, the few teachers are demoralized because of the heavy workload.
Turkana county deputy governor Peter Lokoel says that, “Insecurity is our major concern, school have been closed in Turkana south and Turkana East sub-counties, and teachers are getting worried every day.
Posted in: EducationKenyaLodwarTurkanaTurkana Central
LODWAR, TURKANA CENTRAL
At least 36 needy pupils of Canaan Primary School have received school bags and uniforms from good Samaritans under the Nakwalele Development Organization (NADO).
The pupils were identified by the community-based organization led by Sam Kimeli, the programme manager. He was accompanied by other officials who included Josephine Walela, a representative from the district education office.
The team visited the school, which has a population of 700 pupils, mainly from needy rural families, orphans, including former street children. Many of the pupils lack basic items such as uniforms and writing materials.
During the handover of the items, the deputy head teacher, Geke thanked the team and said the school’s status would improve as more pupils donned the full school uniform.
“Pupils who had full school attires were countable. The uniforms donated by the NADO team will greatly help to improve the status of the school. Sometimes when visitors come, they are confused whether this is a certified learning institution. I believe that will change after this intervention,” he said.
According to Geke, the school has a shortage of both teachers and classroom space.
Walela a representative from the district education office said the uniforms would make it easy for pupils to be identified by visitors and teachers when pupils are outside the school premises.
Kimeli said the project they are implementing aims to build the capacity of vulnerable children so that they can focus on their studies and build their future.
“We want these pupils to be like those in other schools so that they don’t feel underprivileged in any way and they can fully focus on education. We targeted the most vulnerable pupils in the school especially those who were raised in the streets and those who lost their parents and are now under care of guardians,” he said.
He said that the project funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other UN bodies has benefited 400 students and pupils from schools in Turkana central sub-county.
Other schools that have benefited from the project include Salvation Army Nawoitorong Secondary School, Kawalase Primary, Lodwar Girls’ Primary, Loyo Primary, Kakwanyang, Loturere and Napeililim Primary Schools.
Posted in: EducationLodwarTurkana Central
MATANY, NAPAK DISTRICT
When the girls joined Kangole Girls Secondary School they had only one major goal on their mind; to study and excel in their education. They were not prepared for the bizarre happenings that awaited them.
Lo and behold, some of their male teachers who are charged with the responsibility of protecting and guiding them, have turned into their worst nightmare. Whenever darkness descends upon this school situated in Napak District in Uganda, fear grips the girls. They live through the night terrified by the likelihood of being attacked and sexually assaulted by their teachers. The randy males even have the temerity to enter into the girls dormitories with their torches to literally make illicit demands.
Whenever the traumatized girls seek solace by reporting to their headmistress; they suffer double tragedy. She accuses them of indiscipline and misconduct and in more bizarre and extreme cases expels them. She recently sent home 30 girls for participating in a protest against the alleged sexual harassment by teachers.
In their protest, the girls accused the school administration of failing to take action against the male teachers they had identified and named as the sex predators.
One of the suspended girls told the Turkana Guardian that since the beginning of the school term, male teachers had been entering girls’ dormitories and sometimes following the girls to the bathrooms while flashing torches at them: “We have on several occasions raised this issue with the headmistress but no action is taken against the teachers. They continue with their disgusting ill manners until we decided one Monday to hold a peaceful demonstration,” she said.
“At times when we report the issues to the headmistress, she labels us as a deviant lot lacking in discipline. She has many times suspended those who report teachers to her,” protested another girl.
During the demonstration, the police rushed to the school when matters threatened to boil over. The agitated girls had threatened to set the school facilities on fire.
The school headmistress Sister Anna Nadulya declined to talk to journalists. For two consecutive days she ignored our calls. However, the resident District Commissioner for Napak, Mr. Nahman Ojwee said that the strike by the student had been contained. He decried lack of communication between the students and the school administration.
“Yes there was some weakness between teachers, administrations and students but I went and held a two day meeting with the administration and some parents to help resolve this thorny issue. Studies have since resumed,” he said.
The District Commissioner added that the suspended students were identified as ringleaders and they would be allowed back in school following a Board resolution on the matter.
Joseph Lomonyang, the Napak district chairperson said that school heads must learn how to relate with students in a humane way.
Stella Namoe, the Woman Member of Parliament for Napak district called for special investigations into the allegations and other grievances raised by the girls. She said that if found guilty of sexually harassing the girls, then the teachers must face the full force of the law. The MP asked the school administration to immediately recall the suspended girls to allow them continue with their studies.
On the other hand, the parents of the suspended girls have threatened to take the school administration to court for what they called unlawful suspension of their children: “Our children were protesting against sexual harassment because it’s their right to be protected. However, the school administration, instead of protecting them victimizes them away,” said Samuel Lokol one of the parents.
It is the prayer of the parents that criminal elements that exist within the school’s teaching fraternity will be exposed, shamed and punished to enable their daughters excel and realise their dreams.
Posted in: EducationKenya
Residents of Moroto district have hailed the Chief Administrative Officer Robert Mulondo for implementing measures that have reduced absenteeism at government offices by public servants.
Mulondo organized a community accountability meeting in Tapac Sub County in Moroto district to the excitement of the resident.
John Lote, one of the residents of Tapac sub-county said in the past, civil servants working in Tapac sub-County operated by remote, and lived in Moroto town. But today, they reside at the sub-county premises.
Lote said Moroto was one of the districts with rampant absenteeism especially by teachers and the health workers. However, since Mulondo arrived, absenteeism has reduced.
Lote attributed the development to impromptu inspections of government offices by the new Chief Administrative Officer.
Grace Nakut another resident of Moroto town said at the district the officials report for work by 8am and leave office by 5pm.
The deputy resident district commissioner Helen Pulkol advised the residents to also monitor performance of government projects in the villages.
“You’re the ones to inform us of any government projects that are poorly done so that we can take action,” she says.
Posted in: EducationMorotoNewsUganda
The University of Nairobi.
BY DR. JOHN TERIA NG’ASIKE
With economic indicators repeatedly reporting the County as the poorest in Kenya with high poverty, educating children in Turkana remains a challenge.
The recent economic report notes a drop in the county’s poverty index (from 90s-70s percentage drop), thanks
to the County Government’s effort. But poverty is compounded by illiteracy of parents who cannot supervise their children’s education.
The Government has given some relief to parents by providing free primary and day secondary education. In addition, there is hope in tuition support for higher education as the County Government provides student bursaries.
Further, constituency development fund(CDF) is available at the constituency to cover costs of higher education. Tullow Oil Company has added to the bursary kitty and supports graduate students pursuing engineering courses, alongside providing tuition to bright students in secondary schools. Earlier before the introduction of CDF, churches built secondary schools and sponsored large numbers of poor children. Also humanitarian organizations like World Vision, Child Fund contributed. The colonial administration isolated Turkana until early 1960s when the Catholic Church opened a mission in Lorugum, marking the beginning of serious education activities. Education infrastructure and funding for higher education engineered by churches has produced the current Turkana elite. However, the Catholic Church has today shifted from providing free education, to paid education, which is inconsistent with the church’s role to serve the disadvantaged in society. The challenge though is the readiness of Turkana to take up the responsibility of educating children that has long been a tradition of the churches and NGOs.
I am aware the Turkana still depend on people outside the County to give education, especially in teaching and administration. Majority of educated Turkana now in leadership in Kenya are products of free education by the
missionaries and NGOs. My concern is the extent to which we have broken the cycle of poverty after receiving
free education from the missionaries, churches and NGOs.
In my case, I made a commitment that after benefiting from a bursary, I would
educate my own children and if possible extend a hand to a relative. However, this appears not to be the case for many Turkana elite who benefited from free
education. I am afraid to observe that Turkana elite have developed a “free education syndrome” from the missionaries who sponsored them. This is a mentality where well-to-do families also struggle for bursaries for their children.
Teachers, soldiers, civil servants, NGO,chiefs, politicians struggle to secure bursary funding for their children and relatives. As a result, the surest way to get a bursary in Turkana is to be well-connected. The poor and the orphans are likely to miss the bursary because of lack of a voice and political connection to argue their cases. It is sad to meet poor children with letters of admission to national schools, but without hope of making it to these schools. These children usually have nothing including money for requirements and transportation.
As the well-connected parents lobby to get bursaries at the expense of the poor, poverty gaps continue to widen as the
“handouts dependency syndrome” continues to linger in the minds of Turkana elite. The elite have taken over the bursary funds to pay for further education in colleges at the expense of poor children.
It is not only the children of these elite who are benefiting from the bursary, but also the elite themselves have turned
to the bursary money to pay for school based programs or evening classes at the Universities. Politicians are using CDF and County Funds to reward their cronies in the name of bursaries. With limited resources, who should benefit from the Turkana Bursary? Should it be the elite, their children, the poor or the orphans? I leave this question to the Turkana leaders and elite to think about. I want to advise that if you have a job, please pay for your children’s education. Pay for your wife’s education. Also, adults returning to the Universities should seek alternative ways of funding their education. Let us give a chance to children to benefit from the little resources available in the county.
Dr. John Teria Ng’asike is Senior Lecturer and Education activist, Mount Kenya University, Lodwar.
Posted in: EducationKenyaOpinionTurkana